WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2009 -- The Rev. Jeremiah Wright may have made his peace with the former parishioner he once suggested turned on him for political gain, President-elect Barack Obama, but in an exclusive interview, he showed he's still furious with the media, who he called "evil," and said he's "not going to kiss anybody's behind."
In a sermon today at Howard University's chapel in Washington, Wright used Obama's life as an example to show how despite challenges as a nation, the country can build a better future.
"He was able to do what nobody of African decent was ever able to do in the 211-year history of this country. ... The Lord stepped into his story and gave him a new attitude," he said.
It was a completely different scene from Wright's defiant appearance at the National Press Club in April. Gone was any hint of anger directed at Obama for denouncing his more controversial sermons and statements, which became fodder for Obama's critics during the presidential campaign.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News following the service, Wright showed some of that same fire when he lashed out at the network for breaking the story of his inflammatory sermons, saying he was "not going to kiss anybody's behind."
Wright was visibly angry when speaking about the press, and in particular ABC News, which first presented a "Good Morning America" story about Wright's sermons.
"It was so unfair to my family and ended up hurting my daughter and it was unconscionable," he said. "ABC started a mess that was unconscionable."
Asked about the change in his demeanor since the Press Club appearance, Wright responded by attacking the journalists who were there that day for being obsessed with his relationship to Obama. He instead had hoped that the media would focus on his presentation about the black religious tradition.
"They were arrogant, they were evil, they were devious and I responded in kind," Wright said. "I just talked to you about a 500-year tradition but you don't ask me one question about that because that's not your interest, your interest is to taint Barack Obama. So no, I'm not going to be conservative, I'm not going to kiss anybody's behind and if I'm standing up straight you can't ride my back."
Also during the interview, Wright praised Obama and expressed pride in the fact that a former member of his church had risen to the highest office in the land.
"He was in my ministry for 20 years. We're the only ... black church in the nation to produce a president. We're all proud," Wright said, but added that he would not be attending the inauguration on Tuesday. Instead, he will be teaching a class at Virginia Union School of Theology.
During Obama's presidential bid, Wright refrained from throwing in his support. However, now that Obama is on the verge of becoming president, Wright appeared to be more open about his feelings toward the president-elect, perhaps because he no longer has to fear his role in the spotlight could derail Obama's chances of winning the White House.
During the sermon today, Wright went on to say that when other people told "the scrawny kid with the big ears" he couldn't be president, he responded, "Yes, we can."
Finally, the former pastor told the mostly black congregation that they could use Obama's story to draw the strength necessary to change their lives. His point was that Obama, himself, with God's help, had overcome great obstacles in his rise to the presidency.
Wright's 50-minute sermon, which drew a packed auditorium, was extremely well received by the Howard chapel audience. He received several ovations and brought down the house especially when he joked, "Michelle Obama will be the first black woman to sleep in the White House legally."
After the event, Wright was hounded by people wanting to shake his hand and take photos with him.